I Made a Quiz to See if You Know the Literal Meaning of Carmakers' Names

We use words all the time—hell, I’m even using some right now, as I’m typing this! That’s why it’s sometimes alarming to realize that, hey, I don’t actually always know the full, literal meaning of every word I use, especially when it comes to proper names. For me, proper names are usually automaker names, so maybe it’s time we really look into what these names actually mean.

Some carmaker’s name meanings are very well-known. Volkswagen likely has the best-known name, in that almost everyone knows it’s German for Peoples’ Car. Most other major car company names, though, have much more obscure meanings, often referring to usages of the world long fallen out of favor.

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Also, remember, there’s a bunch of different languages involved here. I’ll give you one more example, because it’s funny: you know the Czech automaker Škoda? Sure you do. You know what the word škoda” actually means in Czech?

Damage, or loss, sometimes used as a term for someone who’s a klutz. It seems when it’s uses as an interjection, it means “too bad!” I wonder why Škoda’s marketing department hasn’t played this up more?

What I’ve done here is listed the actual, literal meaning of major car company names, 20 of them, and you, lucky you, can try to figure out what carmaker each literal meaning is referencing! It’ll be fun, not in that drunk-in-public kind of fun, more like the etymology-in-public kind of fun.

Feeling lucky? Have at it! I’ll have a link to the answers below the list.

1. Non-specific prime movers
2. A crossing
3. To roll
4. To hear
5. Original field
6. Fertile rice paddy
7. Little goat herder
8. Avoid
9. Counsel and rule
10. Three water chestnuts
11. Maker of earthenware utensils
12. An offering
13. Blacksmith
14. Father
15. Little fighter
16. Jewel
17. Dark and swarthy
18. To come out of the East
19. Roof repairman
20. Modernity

Want to see how you did? Click here! Then lie to us in the comments!

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)